Why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention?

If you don´t recognize the quote, it is from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

I was on the train yesterday. We were playing ´´Pick a train, any train´´ on our way south towards the black forest area of Germany. The train from Koblenz to Mainz was off-again on-again full, and I found myself playing one of my usual ´pass the time on the public trasport´ games, watching to notice which people try to be stylish, which music players people use, etc. Little details that make people differet from each other.

One girl in our car was using her cell phone (a newer model) as a music player, which intrigued me. I hadn´t seen many that do that yet.

Another girl got on, with a goth friend. She was in baggy military-drab cargos and a black off-the-shoulder sweater that looked like a couture knockoff, high on one shoulder, off the other, with a single bright red strap from a halter top or bra showing.

It created a very pleasant effect without being quite far enough over the edge into punk to be scary. Chunky shoes and great hair made the look work for her very well.

I assume she noticed me watching her early because she eventually looked over at me and smiled. Probably the smile of someone who is used to being noticed but I don´t know. In any case, it made me remember ESotSM, and the scene in the coffee shop, and the quote which I used as a title today.

Why is it that I can act so confident and aloof and downright cocky yet sometimes I´ll suddenly feel, for no reason, as if I am in high school again? It is an odd sensation. It isn´t like there aren´t plenty of chances that I make for myself daily.

But when it comes right down to it. . . I am beginnig to realize that I don´t believe in any of those chances because I am too mobile right now. Too unrooted. I don´t just mean on this trip, I mean in general. I am planning to travel after I get home, yet only for a few years. Say I meet an expat that I like in HK, what am I going to do? Change my plans and stay there for the rest of my life? I don´t think so.

But who knows? Solitude is an odd sensation to bear for as long as I expect to bear it. It will be nigh-on half-a-decade before I find a place where I might be comfortable dating for the long term.

Oh well. Patience is a virtue.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Humanity Overload.

After getting very lost yesterday and regaining my bearings far south of my intended destination, I opted to take the bus and rest my feet for a few miles.

I noticed when I entered the bus that the bus was almost half full, but each active row was occupied by a single person, sitting alone.

No two adjacent seats on the entire bus, on either side, were filled.

I found myself seeking out a seat alone, and thinking.

Why do we come to the city and then seek solitude? Humanity Overload?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


I'm here!

After a fantastically uneventful flight (landed 5 minutes late. Everything on point), I found myself buying a train ticket from Gatwick into London via the Gatwick Express.

To avoid the morning commuters who would be slowing down the South line (£8) I took the Gatwick express into town (£12) and found myself standing on the platform at victoria station at 8:50 this morning.

Of course, I had made my reservation for later in the day, so I decided to walk it, which, if I'd paid better attention to my map would have been a fine idea. As it was, I wound up in the wrong district, W8, when I should have been nosing about in W2.

Londoners are incredibly helpful about poor lost bastards like me, and sticking my head in a post office not only yielded a set of directions, but also meant that later, another person who had been in the post office when I'd asked for them asked after me on the street to see if I was getting on ok!

So they are, officially now, the nicest people on earth, which is cool.

But, the downside is that they don't know any of the little streets in a district outside their own. Unlike New York, London has a billion tiny side streets sporting three buildings and 8 parking spaces, and it is on such a side street that my hostel is located. So I found myself in W8 asking for directions to a tiny sidestreet in W2 and everyone was forced to give my blank looks and directions to a different street because they didn't know where I was headed and I had no clue.

Once I sorted out that I was looking at the wrong part of my map, I headed for the correct district and found myself a few helpful post office and police personell who aimed me in the right direction. So I spent about 3 hours finding a place that, in reality was only a 30 minute walk from the station, if not less.

So now I'm going exploring for a bit, and I'll be back to update you all later.

I'll meet Adrienne tomorrow night and probably drag her back here to check her e-mail and update her folks as to the start of her travels. We'll see.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


I came to visit my university today.

I was a student there for 8 long and rewarding semesters. I cherished my time there by living it to the fullest extent I was able. I submersed myself almost entirely in the experience.

I did not realize, even last summer, when I wrote The (Un)common Room, how much this place and these people impacted my life. Coming back here now, for a day, before I travel overseas and abandon home and normalcy in favour of a great new adventure, I realize something powerful. I am a child of these halls, and fields, and walkways. I am a citizen of this awkward crowd of wayward students and warring dreams. I am a Mercerian.

Alma Mater

On the city’s western border
Reared against the sky
Proudly stands our Alma Mater
As the years roll by

Forward ever by thy watchword
Conquer and prevail
Hail to thee, O Alma Mater!
Mercer, Hail, all Hail!

Cherished by thy sons and daughters
Mem’ries sweet shall throng
Round our hearts, O Alma Mater
As we sing our song.

Forward ever by thy watchword
Conquer and prevail
Hail to thee, O Alma Mater!
Mercer, Hail, all Hail!

I remember singing this song, holding a flimsy, paper-covered candle standing on the quad. Trying to find myself among 500 students yearning for a place and a purpose. I knew then what my place and purpose were. I knew why I was there and what I was to do during my stay.

Four years and thousands of lessons in history, math, music, engineering, logic, science, and life later, I know far more, and far less, than I did when I first arrived.

I find myself between carreers, between selves, between lives. In the awkward limbo of not-knowing. It is a different place than the ones with which I am familiar.

And yet, over the past year, I have made this place my home, and even it now becomes something I know, something I do, something I am.

"if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."

New choices soon, and new adventures too.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


I found this online.

It expresses my sentiment.


Away! Posted by Hello

For those of you who wish to read my travel stories as they are written, they can be found on The Road. I am one of the two authors there. The other is an old friend. We shall be traveling together for much of the trip.

Lots of people haven't found me yet.

Interesting, innit?

Lots of people that I expected to stumble across this on their own by now appearantly have not discovered it (or they are doing a damn good job of playing stupid. If so, go them! As the regulars all know, I don't like knowing that people I consider friends read what I write).

I appreciate the sensation of anonymity that is provided for me by this ignorance, and realize that it helps maintain my integrity as a writer.

In addition, I am twice as aware of people's reactions in the window directly after the time they notify me that they have discovered it.

However, I'm also (I find) more likely to choose to try to overcome my aversion by writing about things that I have second-thoughts about, since I know those are things I would have written freely about before.

Interesting mental games we play, as writers.

I'm not hung over.

Which was a distinct risk, considering how many people tried to buy me drinks last night.

I was standing in the local bar across the parking lot from where I work , and my Kitchen Manager sauntered (well, weaved, really, he was trashed by then) up to me with a shot of Rumpleminz and a beer, and just as he did so, The Bartender cut the house music (some decent punk rock band I didn't recognize that I actually meant to ask about--damn) and yelled "Hey everybody. This one's for Patrick. He's going to Europe!".

And everybody cheered.

Of course, they were all drunk.

Well, to be accurate, at that point we were all drunk. But I finished the shot and the beer and got a class of water and joked with my managers until I felt stable enough to drive and then I drove a coworker to a friend's house before coming home.

Also in the course of the evening I was offered a sexual act which I won't describe in detail, courtesy of a professional in the field (I think one of my bosses still thinks I'm gay), and pretty much any drug to which I might want access, but turned down both offers on the grounds that I might have very few rules but one is that I never mix sex and money, and another is that I don't play with hard chemicals.

But those are stories for another night.

And now I have some clean up and packing to do.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

My Last Day.

I'm starting over.

Well, sortof.

My last day of work is today. In late April, I will make a brief reappearance in this part of the world. My intention is to be overseas by my birthday (as you may remember from Resolutions?) and remain there (living and working) for at least one year.

But the more pressing and immediate focus of my attention is the fact that in a few minutes I'm going to get dressed for work for the last time, and go tend bar for the last time in this town.

It is something to which I have grown accustomed: the absence of permanence in my life, in favor of a drifting, painless disconnection. I'm not saying I'm completely aloof, just that I don't consider myself rooted anymore.

Is that a bad thing? No, but it does have it's downsides.

For one thing, I have no plan for my life for any date later than April 28th. After that the slate is completely clear. I really must seek to remedy that, somehow.

But for now, the focus is on today, not tomorrow, and on how to say goodbye to my coworkers and employers in a positive, respectful way.

("Fuck you all!" just seems a bit. . .forward, y'know).

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Sabrina, and Ralph Koster.

When I got home tonight my Parents were 30 minutes into Sabrina (the new one, with Ford and Ormond). I decided (in the next room, while sorting through eletronics that I'm taking on my trip) that I would write tonight about Sabrina and dreams and bullshit and how I don't believe that there are Sabrina Fairchild's anymore, and I'm no longer interested in being a Linus or a David Larrabee. That I'd rather not get involved, for love or money, and let other people deal with all the wistful thinking and faith and drama.

It was going to be a long, impassioned rant about how it takes too much energy to maintain hopes that aren't ever supported by evidence found in the real world, where we live and laugh and work and pretend to love.

All because I was had a quasi-lousy day at work and was in a bad mood when I got home.

Instead though, I got online and read a few things*, as I always do, and one of the things that came up was a link from Kotaku to notes taken from Ralph Koster's keynote address at the GDC. they're moderately exhaustive, though not perfect.

The keynote address itself is brilliant. It is all about what constitutes fun, and what fun means, and why games are important, and how games might just be the salvation of a civilization hellbent on commiting self-genocide via simplification and standardization.

It is the sort of thing I can never seem to write coherently, though I think things in similar veins often. I admire Mr. Koster for his ability to boldly point out that maybe not only are games the future--but they aren't all bad.

That's a bold statement in a culture where 'gamer' and 'pencil-necked geek' are nearly synonymous and equally negative. Sure those mentalities are slowly being changed by movies like Antitrust and The Matrix, which made stylish, moderately attractive geeks into heros, and Bill Gates, who can't sleep for more than a few hours at a time for fear that he might drown in the money that rains from the sky wherever he goes (in an increasingly-wealth-driven society, that status means a great deal). But we're still way behind the curve of say, baseball players, or even accountants ("at least they have real jobs." the status quo would argue).

So I commend Mr. Koster on his assertions. I think he's doing good things, and I hope his message gets around. I did my part. And if you didn't follow the link to his keynote yet, consider this: there are also attractive, naked people of whichever gender you prefer included in the margins of the article!

(ok, so that was a lie to make you go read it. . . if it worked. . .shame on you.)

In an unrelated note - I have a blue collar guy in his late thirties that comes into my bar almost every Monday. He and a coworker always come in together, and they are good guys. He's the sort of guy you expect to drive a Ford truck, watch as much football as he can manage, and build his own cabinets.

He's not the sort of dude you expect to overhear saying, as you walk past his portion of the bar, "Yeah, there's other software out there like Limewire and Bearshare, but alot of them include spyware, and you want to avoid that. . ."

Cue blinking and surprised look from me. "What are you using? WinMX?"

"yeah, it's good. I mean, I've found everything on there. I've downloaded whole albums. Cartoons for my [four year old] little girl. All sorts of stuff."

The Old Boy is a file sharer. I have had a file-sharing, copyleft encouraging, RIAA-the-finger-giving old-school redneck Pirate sitting at my bar for months now, and never knew it until tonight.

Small world, 'neh?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Love Minus Chemistry.

Around Valentine's Day, a friend of mine linked to an article titled Love - Chemistry = Friendship.

Please read that article in full before returning to this space and reading the following.

If you know me personally (I'm worried that lots of my readership does, and I know that damages the authenticity and clarity of my work) then please understand that the following isn't about you. That's going to be hard to accept for some of you, because you'll recognize that you may or may not have played a role in the following stories from my life. But understand that there are at least five different stories, all involving different players, that are being drawn from to write the following, and your component might be less primary than you think.

Also, if you haven't yet, please read my introduction for first-time readers.

Now, back to the topic at hand.

Love - Chemistry = Friendship.

I have, more than once, encountered this exact equation. At times, it has been a mutual understanding. We were kindred spirits and just weren't passionate about one another. There was no chemistry lost in our relationships.

At other times it's been a one-way street. Someone has had both love and chemistry for me and I've had only love, but not attraction to them. It's also happened in reverse. There are people to whom I have been very attracted that weren't attracted to me (this has kept me out of trouble more than once, thankfully).

In addition, I've wound up in relationships with chemistry but no love, and those are completely unfulfilling.

If there is one thing I know about relationships (and judging from the stories you've read here you have likely gathered that I'm obviously not good at aquiring and maintaining successful ones--so take it with a grain of salt) it is this:

Without both facets of a relationship--love and chemsitry--things will eventually collapse.

I have instinctively avoided chemistry-less relationships througout my life. I was once approached by a close friend who expressed to me her care for me and that she felt that I would make a perfect partner for her. When it happened, it hurt. Because the last thing I wanted to do was hurt someone I cared for, and I cared for her deeply.

I remember sitting there, late at night, trying to find out how to say "I care for you too much to start this now". Because that's what it was. I cared too much for my friend to hurt her by misleading her into thinking I was giving her something that I didn't really have to give.

That's what made it so frustrating, because if chemistry could be generated spontaneously (see Dr. Warren's article) I would have been very tempted to generate it and jump willingly into a relationship with a person for whom I already had very deep feelings. But admiration does not equal attraction.

Pragmatic care and love, minus the chemistry that makes two people attracted to one another is doomed to failure. I could foresee in my future living an unfulfilled life by attempting to force myself to have something that cannot be forced, and I knew I would be selling myself (and the person with whom I was discussing the issue) short, and I wanted to betray my friendship to her least of all.

There is another equation that has come across my field of vision that I have little interest in: chemistry - love = 'friends with benefits'. The idea of essentially gaining the sexual satisfaction you crave by sleeping with an aquaintance--without all the hassles of maintaining a healthy long-term relationship.

It's a concept I was first told about several years ago, and it has been suggested to me since then. I find it abhorrent.

I think the main problem I have with it is that sexual satisfaction has always been firmly anchored to expressions of affection and love. I grew up in a household with two very loving parents, and as they served as my primary models as to what a successful relationship looks like I cannot help by always associate expressions of kindness and affection with any level physical intimacy.

You've seen my past writings where I've mused about my inability to be interested in actually sleeping with someone, even if I've proved to myself I'm capable of seducing them (components of those writings are non-fiction and other components are entirely made up) if I don't love them. It's just the way I am.

I think a large part of this is that "chemistry" is more generic than just "I like the way you look/smell/feel, let's shag". There is more to chemistry than sexuality--there is also chemistry based in having similar interests, intellects, and passions. I remember sitting with a girlfriend of mine to whom I was very attracted and being incredibly turned on (romantically, you perverts) when we discussed "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. It was the first time I had had an intelligent and in-depth discussion of a work of science-fiction with a woman my age in probably half a decade, and I was smitted with the girl almost immediately.

It didn't hurt that I thought the girl was incredibly attractive and she had the largest, most intriguing eyes of anybody I've ever met, but physical attractiveness alone doesn't get me far enough to make me want to maintain a long-term relationship with someone--there must be more to chemistry than that.

It is important to recognize this second part of chemistry. That it is in fact more than just 'chemistry'. It's 'alignment.'

People are heading certain directions in their lives. They have goals, dreams, and desires. I think that in addition to love and physical chemistry, an alignment of their intellects and interests must be present. Sometimes this allignment will be where they travel in the same directions and sometimes it will be in an um-yang (what you know as a "ying-yang"--the balance symbol: q) where they compliment each other through their differences. Without these alignments, the relationship will fail.

I was once in such a relationship. We were physically attracted to one another, and we cared for each other deeply, but we suffered from a chronic misalignment problem. We had the alignment of bugger-all. Nothing. We were driven by different forces, interested in different things, strove for different reputations, and it made us feel as if the relationship was constantly coming apart at the seems.

It was a third component that everybody admits is important but nobody tries to factor in, because when you meet people you rarely find out much about their alignments until far far later into the relationship, and if you're physically attracted to them you ignore the warning signs and say "well, bugger it, I can always worry about alignment later!", because we're impatient, and we've got hormones, which is an accurately paired set of syllables if you ask me.

But I'm getting off topic. "Why am I bringing all this up now, anyway?" I'm sure some of my readership is wondering (The rest of them have probably already knocked off to get some pretzels and watch Tilt).

I'm not really sure. Mainly I suppose because these are some of the skeletons that have been near the front of my closet for years, and writing about them might enlighten others or help in some way to let other people think through their own experiences.

Partly because I don't think enough people break enough important topics into threes.

I think that admitting to that third component in relationships--which we are so willing to ignore, especially when we're lonely--is vital to the survival of any relationship in which we engage. If it isn't there things will eventually falter and fail.

So I suppose this is just a heartfelt suggestion: when you're dating, or seeking, or avoiding, or whatever it is you do (these days, I avoid) make sure you consider all three components.

Sorry if all that was awkward and forced. Knowing that my readership reads this heavily influences my writing style and makes me more guarded than I would otherwise choose to be.

Gratuitous link to something better: Lotta Players in the Game.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Freeze Frame.

These are the moments that burn themselves on our mind's eye.

She was brunette. Slim. Maybe early 30s. A kind smile. He was greying at the temples. Late 30s, perhaps. Vaguely professional but country enough to know not to be pretentious. The kind of man you respect and would work hard if he were your supervisor.

They came for dinner. Walked in around 7:30 while the bar was still pretty quiet. Before the band had even arrived. They sat on the side nearest the stage.

She had the pan-seared grouper with crab-cream sauce. He had the blackened catfish filet.

They stayed and listened to the duet for a long time. Two hours perhaps of listening to covers of Oasis and The Wallflowers and Fleetwood Mac.

They were both drinking slowly, but you could tell they were there for the music, and each other. They weren't overt, or undignified. They didn't canoodle, or snuggle, or in fact make any real public displays that were tacky at all. She never hung on him, and he never leaned on her. At times they seemed almost completely physically seperate, and yet you could tell they weren't, not really.

When the time came and they asked to cash out, it was just as things were getting into the thick of it. The bar was full and almost all the tables on the floor had filled as well. The band was doing another mellow cover of an old favorite to which more than half of us could sing along. I printed a cheque and laid it in front of them, in the midst of a dozen other tasks that were calling for my attention, I turned away and handled a couple, and as I turned back I saw that they had laid a credit card on top of the receipt. I reached out over the bar to pick up the card so that I could run it, and at that moment I glanced up, and they had leaned towards each other, and kissed.

It was a subtle thing. A single moment between two people in a crowded bar where no-one was watching except me, and that only by coincidence.

But in that moment it seemed to me that everything around them disappeared, and that they were completely and totally isolated. I don't remember the music or the environment around them. I can't even see anything in my memory that should have been in my peripheral vision, like the people sitting to their right or left, or the wall behind them.

Just their connection, and completeness, and love.

It was as if, for that one instant in time, the entire bar--all its sights and sounds--served only as a backdrop to the perfection that they had, at that moment, captured in a kiss.

It is a split second memory that supersedes everything else about my last Saturday at work.

I looked away. It isn't polite to stare.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Hold please.

Hey guys.

I'm not actually putting my entire blog on hold. It's just that the last few days have been very busy and I've been consuming my computer times with other things (mainly planning for a 46 day trip to Europe) . My policy while I'm overseas will be to update whenever possible from Internet Cafés, but I'm not sure how often that will be. Maybe twice a week if I'm lucky.

There is one deeper, darker post that I've been meaning to write, that hopefully you'll see in this space within the next 5 days or so. I'm not exactly sure what form it will take yet.

Aside from that, I've got to run. Work to do, room to clean, clothes to pack, and so on.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

I think we all know where this is going.

So a couple of years ago, in very early January, my family went to Orlando, and Epcot center.

While there we went, among other places, to the Downtown Disney Marketplace.

It was there, strolling out of the Lego Imagination center and past the Disney Official-Licensed-Toys-You-Are-Way-Too-Cheap-To-Purchase store that I spotted a larger than life poster of Cruella De Vil's head. And in one startling moment of clarity, Michael Jackson's entire life goal was suddenly revealed to me.

All he has left is the shock of white hair.

Posted by Hello

Remember, you saw it here first. I expect this startling revelation to be all over FoxNews in a week.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Emotional Upswing.

To discover the definition of Emotional Upswing, follow this recipe:


1 Depressed College Graduate
14.6 gigabyte+ MP3 collection that spans continents and genres.
1 pair standard headphones.

Step 1) Put on Headphones.

Step 2) Queue up Johnny Cash's Hurt into an existing playlist made up primarily of eastern european and russian techno-trip. Listen to it.

Step 3) Realize when the song ends that it was queued up directly in front of O-Zone's Dragostea Din Tei.

Step 4) Experience Emotional Upswing.

Step 5) Commence with the Numa Numa dance.

For the record: there are parodies, but the only one worth anything is probably Tom and Vince's parody from EJ.

For the record, Gary: I don't know if you will ever manage to stumble across my humble blog or not, but, well, I think you did something awesome. I think the video is great and I think that, unlike Ghyslain, you did this of your own free will because you thought it was cool, and you're right. It is cool. I can't help wanting to join you in the dance every time I hear the song.

(And the people that compare you to William Hung are also off base. You've got way more rythm than William. William has his own special brand of quirky going on, but this is something far more subversive.)

Bravo, Gary. Bravo.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Wings, Chains, and a Forlorn Smile.

"Wings, Chains, and a Forlorn smile." Posted by Hello

For the record, this isn't one of mine. It's from a collection of photographs of cosplayers taken at a convention some time ago.

But the picture is one I liked, so it wound up in my private collection. I'm sharing it with you because maybe you too will appreciate the juxtaposition.